Exploring Line

Children will explore line in art.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will explore line as an element of art and will identify lines in everyday objects.


What You'll Need

  • Children's book, The Line by Paula Bossio
  • String or yarn – one 12" length per child
  • Pipe cleaners – 1 per child
  • Chart paper
  • Broad-tip marker
  • Drawing paper – one 8 1/2" × 11" sheet per child
  • Markers – 1 per child


What To Do

Note: This lesson should be taught as an introduction to the lesson, Lined Pottery, found on this website.

  1. Draw a sketch of a building or a tree on the chart paper.
  2. Ask children to describe what they see. Then, introduce them to the word “line.”
  3. Tell the children that they will be exploring line as an element of art.
  4. Share the story, The Line; pause throughout the book to allow children to share observations regarding the illustrations.
  5. Display a piece of string or yarn, and ask how it can create straight or bent lines.
  6. Distribute string or yarn, and invite the children to manipulate the string to create lines. Allow them to share their experiences.
  7. Ask if all lines are the same, and then display a pipe cleaner. Ask whether they think it can create lines.
  8. Distribute pipe cleaners, and invite the children to manipulate the pipe cleaners to create lines. Allow them to share their experiences.
  9. Tell the children that they will be “line detectives” and that they should look carefully to find lines throughout the classroom.
  10. Distribute drawing paper and markers.
  11. Have the children use lines to draw what they found.
  12. Allow children to share their drawings. Then, display them in the classroom.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me what you think a “line” is.
  • Describe where we see lines.
  • Describe the kinds of lines that are found all around us.
  • Explain the different types of lines that you can create.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Place string or yarn and pipe cleaners in the math area for further experimentation.
  • Have the children look for lines in book illustrations, artwork, and nature.
  • Place different lengths of yarn, string, and rope in the math area. Have the children compare the lengths and widths of the various materials.
  • Take the children to a flat paved area outside. Give them sidewalk chalk, and encourage them to create a city of buildings on the pavement.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe where lines are found?
  • Could children describe different kinds of lines?
  • Could children describe lines they created?
  • Could children use lines to draw their observations?


Did You Know?

Line is an element of art recognized by Dr. Albert Barnes as one of the four major elements of art. According to Dr. Barnes, the other elements of art—light, color, and space—work harmoniously in creating art. He further felt that when artists combine these elements, they can create artwork that richly expresses experiences or emotions. 

Lines are everywhere. We see lines in our everyday environment. Lines can be flat, like those drawn on a piece of paper, or three-dimensional, such as on a sculpture or lamppost. Lines can be thick or thin, straight or bent, curved or zigzag, vertical or horizontal, parallel or intersecting. Lines have width, direction, and length. Lines can be combined to be representational of an image. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • line – a continuous mark made by a moving point.
  • element – a basic part of a whole.
  • wiggle – to move with quick, twisting motions from side to side.
  • straight – without a curve or bend.
  • bent – not straight; curved.
  • detective – a person who finds information to solve problems.

Lesson Tips

  • You could take the children on a neighborhood walk to look carefully for lines in the variety of buildings that they see. Have the children use their index finger as a pencil to draw the outlines of the buildings in the air. Upon returning to the classroom, have the children use lines to draw the buildings that they saw.


  • The Line by Paula Bossio
  • Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS